Heisman winner Griffin wows at NFL Combine

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Heisman winner Griffin wows at NFL Combine

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Robert Griffin III proved he's the fastest quarterback at this year's NFL scouting combine. It might not be enough to supplant Andrew Luck as the No. 1 pick. The two finally got a chance to demonstrate their athleticism Sunday when workouts began. Griffin showed his speed in the 40-yard dash, finishing officially in 4.41 seconds -- the best of any quarterback. Unofficially, Luck ran a 4.59, the same time Cam Newton posted in 2011, but the time was later adjusted to an official 4.69, fourth among quarterbacks. Even so, not much has changed in the rankings. "I think what was surprising to some people was how athletic Andrew Luck is. I think a lot of people might be surprised to compare his measurables to Cam Newton from a year ago," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. "Cam Newton hits you over the head with a sledge hammer as far as his athletic ability; it's pretty obvious, whereas with Andrew Luck, it's sneaky athletic. " His broad jump (10 feet, 4 inches) was two inches short of Cam Newton's best in 2011, and Luck's vertical jump (36 inches) was actually better than Newton's (35 inches). Griffin and Luck both skipped Sunday's throwing drills as planned, opting instead to do that with familiar receivers in a familiar environment during Pro Day workouts. Justin Blackmon, the No. 1 ranked receiver in this draft class, ran the gauntlet -- a drill in which players must catch balls thrown quickly in succession. Blackmon sat out the 40, as expected, after he said he hurt his hamstring last week. Three receivers led the official results: Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill, Stanford's Chris Owusu and Miami's Travis Benjamin all finished with official times of 4.36. Receivers A.J. Jenkins of Illinois and Devon Wylie of Fresno State rounded out the top five at 4.39. Miami's Lamar Miller (4.40) was the fastest running back of the day. Defensive linemen and linebackers will work out Monday. But as has been the case all week, the quarterbacks were the feature attraction. "I don't think they really hurt themselves here," Mayock said. "Most teams will take into account and appreciate the fact that they worked out. Those two quarterbacks are specials kids, and what they did in gym shorts today isn't going to change anything. Outside of not throwing the football, nothing is going to change. Both of them had athletic days (today) which I knew they would." ------ FANS WELCOME: A little more than three weeks after the NFL allowed fans to watch the Super Bowl's media day for the first time, league officials let a smattering of fans watch the combine workouts for the first time. The league gave out about 250 free tickets to some of Sunday's workouts. NFL Network televises the performances, but league officials traditionally have kept the workouts closed because they didn't want spectators becoming a distraction by cheering. On Sunday, fans got to see the showcase group and the head-to-head battle between Griffin and Luck. ------ CRICK ALMOST READY: Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick is nearly recovered from the pectoral tear that cost him more than half his senior season. When his college career ended, he was eighth on the school's career sacks (20), including 9 in both 2009 and 2010. Now he's trying to prove he's healthy in time for April's draft. "I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there," he said. "I'm almost there. I've got to keep showing them that I'm improving, and I'm getting better." Crick said he can now do his normal weight-lifting routine, and he plans to do all the workouts March 8. If he's healthy, Crick might be a first-round pick. "I know my question mark about the pectoral is if I'm going to be able to get back to 100 percent in time for OTAs (offseason team activities)," he said. "As long as I prove I'm on schedule for a full recovery, that's all I can do." ------ TOONING UP: Good hands are just part of the Toon family's legacy. Last season, Nick Toon caught 64 passes for 926 yards and 10 touchdowns for Wisconsin, the same school his father, Al, starred at before a successful NFL career. Al Toon caught 517 passes for 6,605 yards and 31 touchdowns from 1985-1992, all with the New York Jets. Living up to his father's reputation is something the younger Toon has prepared for his entire life. "I think my biggest strength is my hands," he said. "A receiver's job is to catch the ball. That's something my dad taught me from a young age, something I've continued to work on." as one of the 300-plus invitees to this week's workouts in Indy, the son is hoping to emulate his father's NFL career. "My dad was a great route runner, had great hands," Nick Toon said. "He was fast, and he was one of the first of his kind as far as the big receivers go. I think I look like him a little bit when I'm out there playing. That would only make sense."

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.